The extreme weather shelter at the old Hardy View Lodge will remain open until May 3, following an extension of the shelter’s temporary use permit (TUP) and council resolution on Monday, March 8. Council then voted to defer BC Housing’s request to keep the shelter open until next spring.
Council last October granted a TUP to BC Housing and Boundary Family Services (BFS), which fund and operate the facility at 2320 78th Ave. as an overnight shelter for people experiencing homelessness. The permit allows BFS to keep the shelter open for two weeks past the proposed closing date of March 31.
Writing council on behalf of BFS late last month, BC Housing’s Interior director Nanette Drobot said the shelter would remain open until April 14, asking council to grant a further extension until May 3. Drobot then asked council to grant BC Housing a new TUP, which she hoped would keep the shelter running until March 31, 2022.
Almost 30 people have stayed at the shelter since it opened in December, with clients staying 30 nights on average, according to Drobot. The shelter was running at or near its 15 bed capacity as of Feb. 23, she wrote.
Speaking in favour of extending operations until May 3, councillor Chris Moslin said, “From infants, to children, to seniors, [BFS are] the very best we have in our town working for us, and they do a really incredible job. Maybe it’s not perfect, but they are what we have on the ground — today. And they deserve our support.”
Councillor Christine Thompson followed up by asking staff if they’d received any complaints about the shelter from area residents, to which Chief Administrative Officer Duncan Redfearn and development manager Delores Sheets said they hadn’t. Thompson, who publicly asked to hear from concerned residents last fall, said she’d received one complaint.
Councillors Everett Baker and Cathy Korolek said they couldn’t support any extension past April 14. Baker said “the community has been gracious” despite shelter residents “causing havoc” while walking around the community.
Council voted 4-3 in favour of the May 3 extension, with Mayor Brian Taylor and councillors Moslin, Thompson and Neil Krog voting for, and councillors Baker, Korolek and Zak Eburne Stoodley voting against. Council then unanimously voted to defer BC Housing’s request for a new TUP until their next regular meeting on Monday, March 22.
Grand Forks RCMP’s Sgt. Darryl Peppler told The Gazette on Thursday, March 11, that Mounties have attended the shelter at staff’s request, but that police haven’t received calls specifically related to shelter operations. Police attended a neighbourhood incident last month, after a man who’d been refused a bed at the shelter set a cardboard box on fire near the intersection of 78th Avenue and 23rd Street, Peppler said.
BFS Executive Director Darren Pratt said staff would continue operating the shelter if council granted BC Housing’s request for a new TUP and if council asked BFS to stay on.